“Homeland’s” Season 4 premiere might be the most important episode that the show has had since its series premiere back in 2011. After the show spent three years following the trials and tribulations of the relationship between Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody, it now has shed Brody as a character and is trying to recapture some of its earlier momentum.
“Homeland” has managed to do that. Brody isn’t mentioned a single time, though Carrie does try to come to terms with having his baby in some really troubling scenes. But Brody’s name isn’t mentioned once, and that’s an important first step to getting “Homeland” back to being about the high stakes around Carrie’s life instead of the Carrie and Brody romance.
Some who considered Carrie and Brody’s relationship to be the driving force of “Homeland” might find themselves thrown off by Season 4’s reintroduction to her story. Everything in the the premiere episode feels similar, but wrong a bit. Carrie drinks her white wine, listens to jazz and pops pills, but she’s in the Middle East instead of her DC apartment. She runs missions and makes hard calls, but she’s not at Langley and there’s no Saul behind her to back her up or question her decisions.
It’s clear Carrie is affected by those changes in the first episode. She acts a bit hollow, and whenever she is asked to question the morality of her mission, she balks. This is the most rule-abiding version of this character audiences have seen, and it doesn’t look like a psychological break is in the cards for Carrie Mathison.
These are all good things. It’s important for “Homeland” to redefine its identity post-Brody. There was no way it could sustain itself as a show with him spurring the main drama, and already in the first episode of Season 4 there are new, exciting problems pushing the series forward. The opening sequence of the episode seems to be what sets Season 4 in motion, and it looks like more government coverups and conspiracies are on the horizon.
After feeling pretty pessimistic about the direction Season 3 went, this first episode has me feeling very optimistic. It has the forward momentum needed to start driving a new storyline that will have audiences at the edge of their seats. “Homeland” has seemingly fixed its problems, addressed them and is ready to move forward.
So am I. If “Homeland” has a story to tell that is as captivating as Season 1’s, I can’t wait to hear it. The additions of actors like Suraj Sharma and Corey Stoll is a great boon to the series, while Claire Danes, Rupert Friend — a true standout in the first two episodes — and Mandy Patinkin continue to be at the tops of their games. Bring it on, “Homeland.” I’m ready for the ride.